By David Morgan, Associate Editor
CONCORD, N.C. – Marco Andretti just wanted to log laps and finish his first NASCAR Xfinity Series start in one piece, but unfortunately, things didn’t exactly go his way Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Driving the No. 48 Chevrolet for Big Machine Racing, Andretti rolled off from deep in the field, but held his own against the stock car regulars, climbing up the leaderboard as he gained confidence around the 17-turn road course.
Andretti broke into the top-20 at the start of the final stage, but on lap 47, the fun came to a screeching halt when he got caught up in a crash in Turn 6, causing major damage to the front end of his car and bringing his day to an early end.
“I was just starting to hit a stride and the fun was starting,” Andretti said. “It took a while for me to just get laps. The learning curve was so steep, just because you have to learn the car and the track at the same time. I just wanted to survive and be out there for this carnage, but unfortunately, we were one of the casualties.”
Following the impact he took in the car, he made note of his wrist over the team radio – which he had broken in the SRX Series championship race back during the summer. After getting checked and released from the Infield Care Center, Andretti explained that he was OK, but his still healing wrist would definitely be sore in the days ahead.
“It’s definitely going to be sore, just from wear and tear. This is the first activity since.”
Despite the way his race ended, Andretti is still game to give it another shot – should the opportunity come his way again. But next time around, more track time would definitely be something he’d like to have.
“All of the heavy braking zones for me, coming from a really light downforce car, there is just no feel,” Andretti explained. “There was a lot of guessing and trying to get a feel for where the straight-line braking limit is. It caught me out in the beginning, but we recovered nicely and were probably on for a top-15 there, which is not bad for a first go.
“By the time I’m learning left and rights here, I’m already qualified, so I didn’t have enough time to get ready. I think the more laps the better.
If he got the chance to climb behind the wheel of a stock car again, Andretti said that he’d like to change things up a bit and take it for a spin on one of the oval tracks that dot the NASCAR schedule.
“It’d be fun to do a really short oval. I think it’d be really fun.”
Andretti was one of a number of NTT IndyCar Series stars that are giving NASCAR a shot this weekend, along with Sage Karam making another Xfinity Series start on Saturday and Conor Daly making his Cup Series debut on Sunday.
Karam looked to be in position to claim a top-five finish before an off-track excursion relegated him to 30th at the finish.
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